The Tears Are More Than Worth It

Without Oreo the house feels empty.

In fact, after he left on Saturday with his new family, Frankie spent the rest of the morning looking for his pal. He ran up and down the stairs and wanted to go out in the playyard to look and then back in the house to make the rounds again. It was a good thing we had Sip for a Cause on our calendar that night to distract all of us.

Some dogs are just special. Not that I haven’t loved every dog I’ve fostered, but some of them burrow a little deeper into your heart.

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I saw something on Facebook about the pain you endure as a foster mom yesterday. It said – Continue reading The Tears Are More Than Worth It

We All Need a Sanctuary

I just dropped off Dixie for her spay surgery and 4Dx test. She stood shaking beside me on the passenger side floor for the entire drive.

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I tried to explain to her that this was for the best and that it would move her a step closer to her new life – the one that won’t include puppies or horrible people who don’t take her to the vet when she breaks her leg (or who possibly broke that leg in the first place).

If her heartworm test comes back negative, Continue reading We All Need a Sanctuary

Look Around You, You Can Save These Dogs

The dogs and shelters are beginning to blur together.

Thank goodness for Lisa, who is traveling with me and taking copious notes, asking the questions I forget to ask, and handing me crackers with cheese as I drive the behemoth van between stops. Our days and hearts are filled to the brim.

If you knew Lisa you would be surprised and not surprised that she is traveling on this journey with me. Lisa is not a dog-person, but she is a Cara-person. When she visits my dog-filled house, the dogs will flock to her and she will inevitably say, “I don’t even like dogs, but this one is nice.” (every time)

Here’s what this trip is doing to her – she is often the last one out of the kennels as we finish our visits, lingering in front of cages, tears on her face, snapping pictures. One dog, at Anson, stole her heart – a fluffy, older white dog, not one likely to be pulled by OPH or many rescues. One likely to spend its final days there. She keeps bringing her up and yesterday said tentatively, “I would foster her.”

Jenny (2)

On Wednesday night we stayed at my friend Melanie’s Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary. Melanie and Jim have eight dogs – every single one friendly and sweet and engaging. After seeing so many dogs through chainlink kennel doors, it was wonderful to finally get our hands on some dogs.

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Tuesday morning we stopped at Anson County Animal Shelter, an hour outside of Charlotte, NC where we met Maureen who is single-handedly trying to save every dog she can. She has no fosters, no volunteers. No one comes to walk dogs or play with the kitties or take pictures or help Maureen with moving dogs out through rescue. This is a one woman show.

There are too many dogs at Anson, which like all the shelters we have visited is at capacity. This is Oreo, a 45 pound male boxer mix whose kennel I came back to over and over. He was starving for a human touch. If you put your hand against the kennel, he would place his face against it and stay still as long as you would stand there. He just wanted to be touched and loved. Continue reading Look Around You, You Can Save These Dogs

Testing My Assumptions About My Canine Good Citizens

Assuming anything about your dog is probably a mistake.

(Same goes for most people.)

When Gomer arrived, he was a manic, frenzied force, racing around my kitchen on his noisy toenails, tongue hanging out, pausing only to leap on any persons who happened by.

We took him for a walk with Frankie and he lunged at him over and over, snarling and yipping and frothing at the mouth. And when he was on his own, he attacked the leash itself.

I tried to contain him in the kitchen, and he leaped over the gate to follow me.

I thought, Continue reading Testing My Assumptions About My Canine Good Citizens

Meet YoYoMa (and her remarkable foster mom)!

It’s a quiet house now.

Just us.

Well, and Willow, but she feels like she’s one of us.

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Willow’s spay appointment is May 3, and after that she’ll be ready to go to her forever home. I’m pretty certain by then she’ll have one. She was just added to the website and there’s so much to love about this girl that I expect there to be plenty of applications.

There is rumor that we’ll have a new pup joining us on Friday night from the transport. Check in on the Another Good Dog facebook group for updates.

Since I have no dog stories to tell on my little herd, I thought I’d do something special this week. I’d like to introduce you to a very special dog who came into the rescue about the same time as my Gala but is still searching for her forever home.

YoYoMa is a foster mom herself, as you’ll soon discover. I’ve followed her story because I think it’s a special one and because she is such a funny dog! Her pictures always make me smile. She’s had a hard-luck life and more than deserves a forever home, so I appreciate anything you can do to help us find her people.

I’m also going to introduce you to her foster mom, Val, who is someone I look up to and learn from every day.

Here’s my Q&A with YoYoMa (and then the same questions posed to her foster mom Val!) Continue reading Meet YoYoMa (and her remarkable foster mom)!

Homeless or Humanless?

I’ve been reading a lot of dog books lately. Partly, it’s because my upcoming book will be my first in this genre, and I want to get to know what’s already out there and the writers who publish these books. But mostly, I’ve become a bit addicted. I love reading about people’s experiences with dogs. It’s not just educational and entertaining, it’s also inspiring.

Rescuing Penny JaneIn Amy Sutherland’s book, RESCUING PENNY JANE, she writes about her experiences volunteering at a shelter, sharing a perspective I’ve never heard since I meet my dogs after they’ve left the shelter. I like to think that there are volunteers like Amy at the shelters where our dogs come from. Sutherland is a shelter volunteer, walking dogs every Friday for a local Animal Rescue League. She’s also a journalist and author, so of course, she overanalyzes and writes about her experience.

While it can be momentarily dense with information on shelter dogs, Rescuing Penny Jane is an exploration of the rescue dog world, but also Sutherland’s story of adopting a difficult rescue dog and sticking it out. She writes that she won’t be one of ‘them’, confiding that in becoming a regular at the shelter she is privy to the staff’s feelings about people who return dogs. And so, even though it strains her marriage, she sticks it out with Penny Jane, a fearful and more or less, feral dog.

Sutherland’s words remind me of my own experience with more than a few of my foster dogs. I write in this blog about the funny, the touching, the messy, and occasionally the heartbreak, but each story eventually culminates in one happy ending after another. What I rarely write about is how sometimes I reach my limit and more often sometimes my husband reaches his limit. There have been teary late-night walks waiting for a foster dog to just pee, already. There have been mornings spent on my knees scrubbing carpets and grumbling mangled curse words and masked threats (who am I going to offend? The dogs?). There have been plenty of words typed and then deleted, planned posts that never materialized, and frustrations outlined in detail for my husband even as I stroke the furry head of the offender. For a few hours, sometimes a day or two, I’m done. “Once this one is gone- no more fosters!”

So when Sutherland’s husband says, “It would be easier to return Penny Jane than to get a divorce.” I don’t laugh. I know he’s not joking.  Sutherland’s frustration and tears are familiar, and I read her story with a lump in my throat. I’ve thought so many of the same things.

There is one comment she makes relatively early in the book that struck me so much that I got up to find a pen so I could underline it. She wrote – Continue reading Homeless or Humanless?

Look For the Good

I’m a person who likes a plan. I’m not naturally inclined to waste time or wander. (Obviously, the dogs have much to teach me.)

With Gala, alas, I have no plan. The simple plan was always that we would foster her and she would get adopted. That plan, to date, is not panning out.

I’ve spent more hours running Gala’s situation through my head and heart than any dog to date. But then again Gala’s been with us much longer than any other dog. 10 months.

And Gala, like any other dog, is an individual—made up of good and bad, like all of us.

Even Frankie, who Nick and Ian are both convinced has me wrapped around his little dew claw, has a few faults. He tends to eat first, evaluate later, which I’m convinced will lead us on numerous runs to the Doggie ER in the years ahead. And occasionally, but not often, he does not come immediately when called, but he’s still a puppy, so this is only a temporary fault. (The boys also say I make excuses for Frankie.)

Most of us fixate on faults instead of redeeming features. I don’t know how to reorient myself, much less the world, to see the good before the bad. After all, the bad is what makes headlines and click-bait; it makes plots more riveting and characters more interesting. Perhaps, life wouldn’t be half as interesting if Continue reading Look For the Good